Political parties want ban to go before talks
Different political parties including Awami League (AL) and BNP yesterday said the caretaker government should lift at least the ban on indoor politics for them to take part in the Election Commission's (EC) dialogue.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, a number of leaders representing parties to be invited to the talks said it would be hard for them to decide to join the dialogue without having a discussion at party forum.
Earlier in the day, the EC announced that it would begin the much-awaited dialogue on its proposals for electoral reforms with 15 political parties on September 12.
AL Presidium Member Motia Chowdhury said it is not possible for them to sit with the EC as long as indoor politics remains banned. "How will we take part in the discussions if the ban is still in place?"
she asked adding that they would have to sit first at the party level to take decision in this regard.
Talking to The Daily Star, Motia said they too want a dialogue with the EC but for that to happen the government must create an atmosphere congenial to fruitful discussions.
Brig Gen (retd) Hannan Shah, an adviser to the BNP chairperson, said the party will not participate in the talks if the ban on politics is not lifted.
BNP Joint Secretary General Ashraf Hossain, an influential figure in the pro-reform camp, came up with the similar view. He said an environment conducive to holding discussions has yet to be there as political activities are still prohibited.
"I think the government should lift the restrictions on politics to open the way for an effective dialogue over the electoral reforms," he told The Daily Star last night.
BNP Joint Secretary General Nazrul Islam Khan said they would give a formal reaction on receipt of the official invitation from the EC.
Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid termed the EC initiative a positive move. He told The Daily Star that he hopes the interim administration would soon allow indoor politics and let them decide at the party forum on what they should bring up for discussion with the EC.
Welcoming the EC's decision, Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon called on the government to lift the ban on indoor politics to make the dialogue effective.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) President Hasanul Haque Inu said withdrawal of the ban on political activities is an essential precondition for the talks to be successful.
With the ban still in effect, the EC initiative will create further bottlenecks instead of solving the problems, he observed in a statement yesterday.
Gonotontri Party President Nurul Islam described the EC move as positive, and said they would sit with the commission though it would be hard to do so as the party's central committee cannot meet formally amid the ban.
He told The Daily Star that before joining the dialogue he would talk to his colleagues over telephone.
Jatiya Party (Ershad) Presidium Member Ziauddin Bablu said they view the EC initiative for discussions as a good sign, and would decide on the matter after getting a formal letter from the EC.
Bangladesh Jatiya Party President Naziur Rahman Manzur told The Daily Star that they would first sit at the party forum given that the ban on indoor politics goes in a short time. "We will think things over if we receive an official invitation," he noted.